Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fire Lookouts Play a Vital Role in Forest Protection

California’s ferocious wildfires this year point to early detection as the key for catching small forest fires before they can grow. Over the past hundred years that task has been given to fire lookouts throughout the state. There used to be 630 active fire lookouts in California. Now, for lack of government funding, only about 50 are still operating, most with volunteer staff. In Sequoia National Forest, some 60 miles east of Fresno, is one of the few active lookout stations in the southern Sierra. Fire lookouts are still considered the first line of defense against small fires becoming infernos. To get around the lack of funding, the US Forest Service has joined with citizen groups to rebuild and staff fire lookouts. One such group held a public event this week to raise funds and awareness. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.